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Young Saharawis are fed up with futile peace process
Miércoles, 19 de Septiembre de 2012 08:57
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Young Saharawis are fed up with the United Nations-led peace process between the leaders of the Western Saharan liberation movement, Polisario, and the Moroccans who have colonized most of their country since 1975. The peace process has lasted for over 20 years, but has yet to produce any significant breakthroughs for the Saharawis, who simply demand the referendum that is to determine the status of Western Sahara that they have been promised by the United Nations.

“But the United Nations has not been able to assume its responsibilities. The current negotiations are worthless, since they have been used by Morocco to prolong the suffering of our people in the refugee camps and the occupied territories,” says 24 year old Saharawi journalist, Salama Mohamed.

Salama Mohamed is a member of the Saharawi student union, UESARIO’s, office for human rights. He presently uses his degree in English literature as a translator journalist at the Sahara Press Service.

As is the case with many other Saharawi youths, Salama believes that a return to war against Morocco might be the better of two evils. A recent survey carried out by Polisario’s youth wing, Ujsario, found that over 85 per cent of the young Saharawis polled were in favour of ending the current ceasefire with Morocco and returning to war.

“Young people here are well aware of the devastating consequences of war but they have nothing to lose,” says Salama. “They are frustrated by the damning situation of ‘no peace, no war’, the human tragedy in the camps, the ongoing repression carried out by Moroccan security and military apparatus in the occupied territories.”

Simply waiting for Morocco and her allies to end Moroccan colonialism is no longer an option, Salama says in his capacity as a member of Saharawi union, UESARIO’s, executive office. “We call for reinforcing the peaceful Intifada in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, urgent measures should be taken to strengthen the capability of the Saharawi People’s Liberation Army.”

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Western Sahara: It’s Time for the People to Choose
Martes, 18 de Septiembre de 2012 15:07
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The latest diplomatic dance on whether or not former US Ambassador Christopher Ross should be allowed to continue to mediate UN-led talks between the Frente Polisario and Morocco on the future of Western Sahara is symptomatic of a much bigger problem ― the large powers’ unwillingness to advance an end to a dispute that they mistakenly see as peripheral to their strategic interests, and their resultant acquiescence in the brutal and illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco for more than 35 years.

Western Sahara is not part of Morocco, nor has it ever been. When still under Spanish colonial rule in 1963, Western Sahara was listed by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, putting it on the same path towards independence traveled by almost all other colonial territories in Africa. Spain was expected and indeed obliged to oversee a process of decolonization that it completely failed to deliver upon. Instead, Spain’s withdrawal in 1975 was knowingly orchestrated to leave the territory to a tripartite administration with Mauritania and Morocco that eventually led to the illegal annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

It is therefore not an accident that not one country anywhere in the world has recognized Moroccan sovereignty in Western Sahara, and that the African Union counts the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), governed by the Frente Polisario, as one of its founding members. As the International Court of Justice put it in 1975, “neither the internal nor the international acts relied upon by Morocco indicate the existence at the relevant period of either the existence or the international recognition of legal ties of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and the Moroccan State.”

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Martes, 18 de Septiembre de 2012 14:59
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Independent human rights expert Juan E. Méndez will visit Morocco* from 15 to 22 September 2012, to assess improvements and identify remaining challenges regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment, particularly in light of adopting a new Constitution in July 2011. 

“My ultimate task is to engage with decision-makers and key actors to help the authorities uphold the rule of law, promote accountability for past abuses and allegations of torture and ill-treatment, fulfil the right of reparations for victims, and to ensure that alleged perpetrators are held responsible in conformity with international law,” Mr. Méndez said.

The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, will hold meetings with authorities, the judiciary, civil society, the national human rights institution, United Nations agencies, victims and their families.  In Morocco, the Special Rapporteur plans to visit Rabat, Salé, Casablanca, Meknès and Skhirat-Témara.

Mr. Méndez will share his preliminary comments and recommendations at a press conference to be held on 22 September 2012, at 15:00, at the Hotel Diwan McGallery (place de l’Unité Africaine, 10005 Rabat).  The Special Rapporteur will present a final report to the Human Rights Council in 2013.
(*) The independent expert will also visit Laâyoune, Western Sahara, on 17 and 18 September 2012.

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Can the BDS movement go global?
Martes, 18 de Septiembre de 2012 14:27
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Mark LeVine discusses widening the scope of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement with Stephen Zunes.

Non-violent resistance proponent Professor Stephen Zunes is a leading expert on strategies of resistance, both to foreign occupations and authoritarian regimes more broadly. He spoke with Mark LeVine about his recent research on the possibility of expanding the contemporary Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement beyond the occupied Palestinian territories and whether doing so would help or hurt the Palestinian BDS movement, and global non-violent struggles for freedom more broadly.

Mark LeVine: Your recent article, "Divesting from All Occupations", has caused something of a stir in academic and activist circles. Can you briefly summarise the main argument and why you have come to it and decided to make it now?

Stephen Zunes: One of the major objections to the BDS movement is that it somehow unfairly "singles out Israel" when there are a large number of other governments which also violate human rights. BDS activists, however, correctly note that there is a much stronger legal case for opposing human rights abuses in territories recognised as being under foreign occupation. For example, international law prohibits, under most circumstances, foreign companies from exploiting natural resources within such territories. Similarly, there are a host of legal issues regarding the export of weapons and other military resources to countries that utilise them in suppressing the rights of those under occupation.

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